The Quandary of Lookup Screens

Every now and again, we will get the question, “why is eduTrac built in a way that doesn’t allow the loading of all the data?” This question doesn’t pertain to students because they don’t have access to any lookup screens, but it pertains more to admins, faculty and staff. The conversation usually goes like this:

Person 1: Well, the system doesn’t preload all the data because no one needs it all at once, and it brings unnecessary overhead to the database.

Person 2: Yes, but it defeats the purpose of a system like this. How can someone find the information they need.

Person 1: Who will come to system to look for something and not know what they are looking for. For example, if someone is looking for a student, they will know one of three pieces of information about the student: first name, last name, or student ID. Otherwise, why are they in the system trying to look up a record if they don’t know who or what they are looking for?

Person 2: Yes, that makes sense.

Now, when someone usually asks the question above with regards to preloading data, it usually is asked after someone checks out the demo site, which is understandable. When someone requests a demo, they are sent sample information they can search for in the system since they are not familiar with the data in the demo system.

However, this is not going to be the case at an institution the person works for. He/she will be familiar with the way his/her institution inputs data into the system as well as be familiar with the standards of how the data is entered. Furthermore, they will be in contact with students face to face or over the phone as well as have access to course catalogs, directory information and more.

Hopefully, by understanding this concept, you have a better idea as to why eduTrac is built this way and why lookup screens actually work. As a side note, if you check out the demo of other huge and resource intensive student information systems, you will see they are sort of built around the same concept.